Bulgaria urged to save giant monument

Perched like a vast flying saucer on a central Bulgarian mountainside, Buzludzha is a brutalist concrete monument that was built to glorify communism nearly 40 years ago. The striking circular building has been left to fall victim to vandalism and decay, as Bulgaria has been eager to forget its communist past, but now Western experts want to preserve it as a heritage site. The 230-foot-high structure — made of 70,000 tonnes of concrete, 3,000 tonnes of reinforced steel and 40 tonnes of glass — looks like it is hovering at around 1,400 metres above sea level. It has a 40-metre-wide ceremonial hall and was covered from floor to ceiling in mosaics depicting the history of Bulgaria’s communist party. Inaugurated in 1981, it fell into disrepair following the collapse of the ‘Iron Curtain’ in 1989 and now lies empty and crumbling. Experts from cultural heritage organisation Europa Nostra visited the site last month and have urged the Bulgarian authorities to rescue what they believe is “a masterpiece of architecture, engineering and art”. Europa Nostra listed it as one of the most endangered heritage sites in Europe this year. Brutalist style “With its brutalist style, it is a genuine architectural achievement of the 20th century,” said Laurent Levi-Strauss, a member of Europa Nostra and a former deputy chief of UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage division. Following their visit, the experts called for “urgent action” to stop the decay. And they proposed giving the site national protected status, which would allow EU funds to be used for its rescue. It is a Bulgarian architect, Dora Ivanova, born a year after the fall of the regime, who has been responsible for the revival in interest in Buzludzha. She came across the monument on the Internet while she was at university in Germany and started a campaign for its conservation four years ago. She said her aim was to conserve the building, rather than restore it. “I just want to explain history,” she added.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-life/bulgaria-urged-to-save-giant-monument/article25253939.ece

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